Got a lot of silver that's turning black or tarnishing? Guess it's time to polish those items, but with all the warnings on the cleaners available, who wants expose themselves to harsh chemicals that can damage the environment and possibly poison the user? Some of these chemical cleaners don't even really tell you what is in them. And, if you live in California, they might cause cancer! (I suspect that could happen in your state, too.) Do you really want this going down the sink and back into our rivers and water table? Old brass and other metals can become dull and crusty, too, so this recipe works well with those items, also.
We are all trying to be environmentally responsible, and have become more aware of what these chemicals might do to our own bodies when we are exposed to them. I collect old silver jewelry and vintage handbags. Many of these items I receive are in good shape but very dirty and tarnished. I work a lot with restoring the luster and getting these old things refurbished and revived. So, I don't want myself exposed to harsh chemicals repeatedly and risk health problems later down the road. Cleaning silver takes a lot of work the old way, but there are a few new tools that can make the chore less dreadful.
I bought one of those new battery operated bathroom scrub tools. It looks more like an oversized battery operated toothbrush with various brush heads that are interchangeable. This is a handy tool and doesn't have a whole lot of power, like my drummel tool. So, you don't have to worry about putting gouges in your silver or metal you are cleaning. I mostly use my drummel tool for the polishing and buffing. If you choose to use this nifty tool, use the softest brush head for cleaning your metal. If you are cleaning jewelry with stones, this solution will also brighten and clean the stones, too. My diamonds and gems come out sparkling!
But first, if your silver or metal item is really tarnished, crusty, or blackened, you need to soak it in a solution of 2 cups of hot water, 2-3 teaspoons of baking soda, and a dash of dish soap. Use a glass or plastic container. (I don't use a metal container.) Let your silver items soak for about 5 minutes or more. If the item you are cleaning is too large to soak, wash the item with a cloth, soaked with this solution. For cleaning intricate areas, you can use a soft bristled toothbrush.
If your silver or metal item needs a solution a bit more powerful to cut severe tarnish and crust, add lemon juice or vinegar to your solution. (CAREFUL, though. This will make your solution fizz up, rapidly. Add just a little at a time or you will have a wild foaming mess, spewing over the brim of your container!) This adds more power to your cleaning solution, and won't hurt you or the environment. I don't use rubber gloves, as this solution won't hurt you, but you may want to use gloves if your skin is sensitive or you have a lot of pieces to clean.
These are all common, household baking food elements we eat and drink, so it is all natural. The baking soda is an acid neutralizer, and the lemon or vinegar is a natural acid. Mixing the two causes the foaming reaction as the baking soda neutralizes the lemon juice or vinegar. During this violent foaming process the tarnish and dirt is lifted off the metal. Repeat as often as necessary. It won't hurt the metal or any stones in jewelry. For cleaning jewelry, I will soak the item first, then dip a wet toothbrush in baking soda, scrub the jewelry piece, then dip the brush again in lemon juice or vinegar. Scrub the foaming toothbrush over the jewelry piece and after the foam subsides, rinse in clean water and dry with a soft cloth. WOW! That jewelry piece will really shine and sparkle, now.
After your silver or metal item is dried with a soft cloth, you can polish and buff to a brilliant shine. This is where I like to use my drummel tool, especially on intricate jewelry. The buffing wheel really cuts down on time and does a far better job than I can do with a piece of cloth. For larger items, I simply polish and buff the old fashioned way, by hand.
I hope this information is helpful to you. I have to credit my grandmother for this. If I hadn't watched and helped her clean her treasured items, I might not have ever known how to clean and shine up silver and metals, using household items, right out of the cupboard ... naturally, environmentally safe, and without a health risk to worry about.
I'm planning on writing an eBook containing more "Lost Recipes - Old Fashioned Home Remedies and Safe Solutions" on things my grandma taught me when I was little. Look for it in my eBay Store. Feel free to ask me questions about other "old ways" of cleaning, pest control, and natural meds. I just might know the answer, or remember something she taught me.
Have some fun today... Keeps you young and healthy.